Summary of the reasons for John Terry's FA ban

An Independent Regulatory Commission has released the written reasons for the Football Association handing a four-game ban and a £220,000 fine to Chelsea's John Terry for racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand.

In the 63-page document,  it says that John Terry is not a racist, but that it found the words he used to Ferdinand were insulting.

Terry, cleared in court of abusing Ferdinand, has 14 days to appeal.

Here are the main points of the commission's findings.

WARNING: The below contains extreme language and swearing.

Background:

The commission found there was no dispute that racially sensitive words were used by John Terry but added that had they been used by way of forceful rejection/inquiry then they would be "not enough for him to be found guilty of misconduct in this particular case".

Criminal Case:

The evolution of Cole's evidence

  • Having submitted a statement where he referred to Ferdinand using an unidentified "b-word", Cole's version of events was changed retrospectively via an email from Chelsea club secretary David Barnard.
  • In it, Barnard said Cole wanted to include the word "black" but Barnard then submitted a later witness statement that included swear words heard by Cole not previously mentioned in any statement.
  • The Commission said all this caused it to have very real concerns about the accuracy of Mr Barnard's recollections

With regard to the criminal case, the Commission underlined that Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle had noted it was:

  • "highly unlikely" that Mr Ferdinand accused Mr Terry on the pitch of calling him a "black cunt" (referred to from here on as [profanity])
  • "inherently unlikely" that Mr. Ferdinand should first accuse Mr. Terry of calling him those words, then after the match deny it and maintain a false account
  • "possible" that Mr Terry believed at the time, and still believed, that such an accusation was made.
  • And "possible" that what Mr Terry said was not intended as an insult, but rather as a challenge to what he believed had been said to him

The report said: "The Chief Magistrate did not use any language to convey the sense of something that was probable, or more likely than not, in connection with either of those pivotal propositions."

Evidence:

In evidence provided to the FA, Anton Ferdinand made "no reference to colour, race or ethnicity" which was consistent with other statements made regarding what happened on the pitch. He maintained there were no words beginning with "b" that might have been misunderstood by Mr Terry as being "black".

Terry's decision not to give evidence denied the Commission the opportunity to test his theory, given that his credibility "had its limitations" in terms of the extent to whether an acquittal would have been possible given a different burden of proof.

Findings:

Analysis

"The written judgement makes for 63 pages of highly unpleasant reading, not just for John Terry, but also for Ashley Cole and Chelsea club secretary David Barnard over the reliability of their evidence."

That Mr Ferdinand did not accuse Mr Terry of racially abusing him and did not use the word "black" or any words in reference to race. The report said: "We are driven to conclude not just that it is 'highly unlikely' that Mr Ferdinand accused Mr Terry on the pitch of using these words, but that he did not."

That Mr Terry did not hear, and could not have believed, understood or misunderstood Mr Ferdinand to have used the word "black", or any word(s) that might have suggested that he was accusing Mr Terry of racially abusing him.

That Mr Cole did not hear, and could not have believed, understood or misunderstood Mr Ferdinand to have used the word "black" or any other word beginning with the word "B‟ that had any reference to, or context with, skin colour, race or ethnicity.

That in the brief time that it took Mr Ferdinand to advance up the pitch towards Mr Terry, it is improbable that the focus of Mr Ferdinand's abuse and insults of Mr Terry would have changed so quickly from an allegation of an affair, to one involving skin colour, or race.

Apart from the initial phase of the incident as a whole, Mr Terry and Mr Ferdinand were never closer to one another than an estimated distance of 19 metres. Given the noise of the compact Loftus Road stadium that "it is unlikely that Terry would have heard anything that Ferdinand may have been saying".

Aspects that reinforced the decision

The report said there were further aspects of Terry's defence that the Commission found "improbable, implausible and contrived":

  • "It seems inherently unlikely that if Terry had been accused by Mr Ferdinand of calling him something that ended with the words 'black [profanity]', that Mr Terry would have added the word 'fucking' (referred to from here on as [swear word]) when he threw the words back, if he was genuinely doing so by way of forceful denial. It is also inherently improbable that a denial of such a serious allegation would then be followed by an insulting sexual reference directed at Mr Ferdinand."

Football Association rules

  • Rule E3(1): "A Participant shall at all times act in the best interests of the game and shall not act in any manner which is improper or brings the game into disrepute or use any one, or a combination of, violent conduct, serious foul play, threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting words or behaviour."
  • Rule E3(2): "In the event of any breach of Rule E3(1) including a reference to any one or more of a person's ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation or disability (an "aggravating factor"), a Regulatory Commission shall consider the imposition of an increased sanction."
  • "His repetition of words that Mr Terry claims were said to him first by Mr Ferdinand is implausible if they were really intended to be a robust denial. A much more likely reaction would have been 'I didn't call you a black [profanity]', or at least to have prefaced the words '[swear word] black [profanity]' with 'are you saying that I called you?', or something similar."
  • "A much more plausible and likely explanation is that Mr Terry was angry. The much more likely explanation for this was that the situation provoked him into saying '[swear word] black [profanity]' as an insult, which is consistent with the fact that insults preceded and followed those words."
  • "At no point is his demeanour and facial expression that of someone who is imploring, injured, or even quizzical in the face of an unfounded allegation by Mr Ferdinand that Mr Terry had just been racially abusive. This was an allegation, apparently, that had never previously been levelled at Mr Terry."
  • "The Commission heard no evidence from either Mr Terry or Mr Cole about their claim that, during what remained of the match, Mr Terry said to Mr Cole that Mr Ferdinand had accused Mr Terry of racially abusing him."
  • "Mr Terry made no attempt to confront Mr Ferdinand when the game ended. If he genuinely believed that he had been the victim of an unjustified accusation of the serious type alleged, it is very surprising that Mr Terry left it for approximately one hour after the match before he requested a meeting with Mr Ferdinand."

Judgement

"In the light of those findings, the Commission is quite satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that there is no credible basis for Mr Terry's defence that his use of the words "[swear word] black [profanity]" were directed at Ferdinand by way of forceful rejection and/or inquiry. Instead, we are quite satisfied, and find on the balance of probabilities, that the offending words were said by way of insult."

New evidence

Barcelona case: Comments made by Terry after he was sent off against Barcelona in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final for kneeing Alexis Sanchez where he was reported to have said it was not "deliberate" were considered. Insufficient evidence meant they could not place any weight on this, but the incident did "undermine" character witnesses who suggest Terry has "preternatural reserves of self-control".

Mr Terry's press statement: In a newspaper article, Terry submitted an explanation of the exchange where he claimed his reply to Ferdinand was different to that already placed on record. Without Terry explaining the significance of the discrepancy, the commission said the "unchallenged inconsistency" can provide further support for their decision.

The evolution of Ashley Cole's evidence: The word "black" was introduced into Ashley Cole's statement retrospectively with a view to bolstering Terry's defence, the report says. But it said that the nature of recollections from Chelsea club secretary David Barnard cast doubt on the claim that Cole heard Ferdinand use the word "black" when insulting Terry. Cole's initial statement referred to an unidentified "b-word" but did not use the word "black". Barnard then made subsequent claims, regarding swear words, which were not consistent with initial statements.